The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again raised an alarming over conflicting court judgements on electoral matters, Njenje Media News reports.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, believes such a trend poses a serious threat to the nation’s electoral system if it is allowed to continue.
“What is going on is what in legal parlance, we call ‘forum shopping’ — people who are looking for a place where they can get a favourable decision,” he said on Friday when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“I believe that it is important for the Nigerian Bar Association and for the judiciary to intervene in what is going on because if this spate of multiple and conflicting court orders is carried forward to the 2023 general elections, it is going to have far-reaching consequences on our electoral process.”
The INEC spokesman referenced the events in the build-up to the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled to hold on November 6, 2021.
He decried the situation where the electoral umpire received multiple court orders as a result of the actions of politicians who he said were shopping for favourable judgements.
Okoye, however, stated that the laws of the land do not empower a court to stop an election or political party primaries.
He explained that Section 285 of the Constitution fundamentally gave the definition of pre-election matter.
According to the INEC official, a pre-election matter can only be filed by an aspirant in a party primary election or by a political party that complains about the breach of the decisions of the electoral umpire or the Electoral Act.
“For a party primary that took place in Anambra, for instance, some people will go to Bauchi State, some people will go to Jigawa State, some people will go to Imo state and to other places to go and look for a place where they can get a favourable decision,” he said.
“So, I think that all the institutions that are concerned must intervene, and courts must not donate their jurisdiction, donate their forum for people who engage in forum shopping.
“By so doing, some persons may at the end bring the institution of the judiciary to disrepute and that will not augur well for our democracy and for our electoral process.”